What Does Your Website Say About Your Firm? Lessons from My Trip to Munich

Recently, I was planning a trip to Munich. During the trip, I wanted to visit a few law firms to learn about their marketing and business development, so I researched firms online. However, I didn’t select firms to visit based on the information I read. Instead, I did an experiment: I intentionally looked at each website in German, not English, and made my choices based only on the visual impact of each site. I wanted to see if website design would influence my opinion of the firms I saw during my research.

After looking at several firm websites, it was clear that they varied quite a bit, and I found myself drawn to certain law firms more than others based solely on the way their websites looked. The sites fell into three distinct categories:

  • First, there were the dynamic, well-designed sites. They were contemporary and visually interesting, and they featured action photos, not the generic stock photos that many law firms use. The design of these websites told me that these firms were innovative, modern and cool. These were the firms I wanted to visit; I saw that they put a lot of effort into their websites and I trusted that they would put that same level of care in meeting with me (or representing their clients, for that matter).
  • Next were the middle-of-the-road websites. Nothing terrible about them, but nothing particularly interesting either. Many of them featured the same basic layout and design features. There were a lot of images of people in gray suits and the firms seemed buttoned up, literally and figuratively. A safe, basic website design told me that these firms were a bit unadventurous and perhaps resistant to change. Certainly, these firms seemed professional, but they weren’t the ones I wanted to approach first.
  • Finally, there were the “no-go” firms. The firms with outdated, nonfunctional and just plain boring websites. It was clear that these firms didn’t prioritize their marketing and branding. The sites that were in serious need of revitalization gave the message that these firms didn’t care about details; they were old-fashioned and didn’t change with the times. These were the firms that I planned to skip on my trip.

This was an eye-opening exercise for me; it drove home that a poorly-designed website has very real consequences. I could have been looking at the website of the very best law firm in Germany, but if it was dated, I counted it out. On the flip side, I was drawn to the firms with vibrant websites even before I knew about their credentials and experience.

Your website, for many different reasons, immediately communicates a message about your firm and that message isn’t just conveyed through words. Colors, images and fonts all influence the way your firm is perceived. Prospects quickly form an impression of you, even without being aware of all the factors they’re reacting to. Your website design plays a huge part in this first impression, for better or worse.

What do you think your website communicates? If you’re not happy with the answer to that question, maybe it’s time for an update.

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